St. Kitts & Nevis is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State, represented locally by a governor-general. It is the smallest and newest independent state in the Western hemisphere.
St. Kitts & Nevis’ national flag was adopted as the winning entry in a local competition and uses colours found in other Caribbean flags. Green, yellow and read are also the colours of the Pan-African movement, although in this context the colours officially have a different significance: green represents the islands’ fertility; red stands for the struggles of the people from slavery through colonialism to independence; and yellow is for the sunshine. The peoples’ African heritage is acknowledged by the black, while the two white stars symbolise hope and liberty.
First settled by the British in 1623, the tri-island state of St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla became an associated state with full internal autonomy in 1967. Anguilla was allowed to secede in 1971. The other two islands achieved independence as the federated state of St. Kitts & Nevis on 19 September 1983. In 1998, a vote on Nevis on a referendum to secede from the federation fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. Nevis pursues its efforts to try and separate from St. Kitts.
Area: 261 sq km (Saint Kitts 168 sq km; Nevis 93 sq km)
Capital: Basseterre (on St. Kitts)
Population: 39, 129
Language: English (official); Caribbean Creole
Currency: Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar (US$1=EC$2.70, rate fixed since 1976)
Legal system: based on English common law.
St. Kitts & Nevis is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), based in Saint Lucia, and consisting of a High Court of Justice and a Court of Appeal. One High Court judge of the ECSC is assigned to and a resident of the islands.